Meet Adam

Photo by Amir mohammad jafari on Unsplash Photo by Amir mohammad jafari on Unsplash

Adam is a single father. Last month, his only child left home to study at university. Since then, Adam has been stricken by feelings of grief and loneliness.

Adam is experiencing empty nest syndrome.What can the people around him do to help?

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, "empty nest syndrome is a stage of sadness and loss that parents often experience when their last child (or the only child) leaves home."

If the people around Adam help him find ways to cope and get support, he'll be able to make it through this challenging stage of his life.

Young man leaving and pulling a rolling suitcase. Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

The Psychology Behind It

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Adam's son Ray notices that his father hasn't seemed himself since he left for university. He decides to call his father's psychologist friend, Kade.

Kade explains that empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis, but a normal phase of life that many adults experience.

Common signs of empty next syndrome include:

  • Sadness, loneliness

  • Worry or anxiety over the child's well-being

  • A loss of purpose and meaning in life

  • Increased tensions with their significant other

Ray agrees that his dad has been showing some of these signs. He realizes his dad is going through a tough time and wants to help his father deal with his feelings.

old man having a conversation with a woman


True or False: empty nest syndrome is a psychiatric condition that can only be treated with the help of a doctor.

Coping Tips

Ray asks Kade for advice. Kade offers some strategies that can help empty nesters cope:

  • Accept that their feelings are normal

  • Acknowledge that their parenting role has changed, not ended

  • Keep in touch with their children (calls, emails, video chats, etc.)

  • Find a new hobby or take a class

  • Volunteer for a meaningful cause

  • Reestablish old friendships

  • Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking

    Middle-aged women sitting around a restaurant table, talking, drinking ice coffee, and taking notes.

Supporting Empty Nester Parents

Ray decides to take the following actions to help his dad copewith empty nest syndrome:

  • Stay in touch by calling or texting at least once a week

  • Suggest that his dad pursue new hobbies or interests

  • Remind him that he loves him

  • Remember him on special days

    Middle-aged women in a facetime call waving to the person on the other end of the call.


What else could you do to help an empty nester parent cope? Select all that apply.

Take Action

Awkward dad pointing and saying

Empty nest syndrome can be a tough period of time for parents, but it can also present them with opportunities, like establishing new friendships and finding new hobbies.

If you think your parent is going through a phase of empty nest syndrome, encourage them to:


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